We count down the 32 Dangerous Cheat Codes this holiday season!
- WATCH NOW -
Yooka-Laylee Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . My guess is that longtime fans of Rare's Nintendo 64 output will fall in love with everything Yooka-Laylee does. While I grew bored of collecting the same items, I have a hunch that this will be one of the things many people like the most. The truth is, you don't need a review to say whether or not the game is good, because Playtonic's newest game is exactly what you think it is, for better or worse. I'm not sure I want every 3D platformer to be like this, but I'm happy that Yooka-Laylee exists. Rating: 71%
Yooka-Laylee
«
Yooka-Laylee Yooka-Laylee Yooka-Laylee Yooka-Laylee
  • Review Score:

  • B
Let me ask you a question: Do you love the Banjo-Kazooie series? Are you a fan of collecting hundreds of objects? Have you ever complained that game developers don't make 3D platformers like they used to? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might as well stop reading this review right now, because you're going to love Yooka-Laylee. No, really. If you're the type of person who longs for the types of mascot games found on the Nintendo 64, then you should gather up the money right now and buy this game. You're going to love it.

Yooka-Laylee is the very definition of fan-service, which, judging from the hugely successful crowdfunding campaign, is exactly what long-time fans of Banjo-Kazooie have been waiting for. This is, for all intents and purposes, a sequel to those N64 platformers where the emphasis was on cartoony characters and collecting everything in sight. It's a game that excels at what it's striving to be, and I have a hunch that most people won't care about some of the more outdated elements that linger in this nostalgic trip down memory lane.


Instead of playing a bear and bird, this brand new platformer has us taking control of a chameleon named Yooka and Laylee the bat. These two friends are having yet another peaceful day in Shipwreck Creek, when all of a sudden they notice that books are starting to disappear. And not just a few dumb romance novels, but all of the world's books are being sucked into Hivory Towers. As it turns out, Capital B has a nefarious plan to steal every book and, you guessed it, rewrite the universe. This forces our heroes to double jump into action and save the day.

In order to do this, Yooka and Laylee will need to jump into a five large tomes, each with a different theme and environment to explore. The goal is to collect the 145 pagies that are locked away inside of cagies. We do this by helping the friendly faces we run across, all while fighting everyday items that just so happen to have googily eyes. Once we've collected enough pagies, we'll be able to expand the level, take on the boss and then move on to the next area. It's a loop you've definitely seen once or twice before.

Speaking of things you've seen before, Yooka-Laylee is a game about collecting items. It's not just pagies you'll need to pick up, but also quills that can be used to buy new abilities, like a super roll, protective bubble and move that will let Laylee the bat fly up to hard to reach locations. There are also tokens you can collect to play arcade games, health upgrades, hidden skulls and even ghosts. When all is said and done, there are more than 1,200 items scattered around the six large areas, which will take you dozens of hours to successfully locate.

Although the different levels are large and diverse, you'll end up running into a lot of the same types of missions from one stage to the next. In fact, you'll even interact with the same familiar faces. Every level has you tracking down the various knights of Hamelot, helping a skeletal adventurer named Clara and letting Dr. Puzz transform you into some sort of bizarre creation. And it's not just the same batch of people, as you'll also find the duo flying through hoops and riding unruly mine carts for pagies. There are a lot of familiar moments from one stage to the next, which isn't always a bad thing.

Yooka-Laylee (Xbox One)Click For the Full Picture Archive

But of all the things you do from level to level, it's the handful of arcade mini-games that ended up being the weakest link. If you had asked me going in, I would have predicted these bite-sized breaks from the usual collect-a-thon would be my favorite bits, but that's definitely not the case. These mini-games are both too simplistic and too hard to control, often forcing you to replay them multiple times in order to earn the high score (and a pagie). There's a full-blown arcade where you can revisit these mini-games whenever you want, but after I got the high score and earned the pagie, I never wanted to play them again.

When it comes right down to it, Yooka-Laylee suffers from almost all of the same problems found in platformers from the late 1990s. You'll spend a little too much time in each area, get into a series of questionable boss fights and spend hours upon hours collecting the 1,200 items. Despite the great graphics, this feels a lot like a game that would have come out a couple decades ago. In that sense, my guess is that most of the people who are excited for Yooka-Laylee probably won't see these as much of a problem. In fact, many will probably enjoy these nostalgic elements and see them as a selling point.

As somebody who doesn't have a lot of nostalgia for the Banjo-Kazooie franchise (but does enjoy 3D platformers), I found that some of the repetition got to me after a while. I certainly enjoyed the different levels and had a great time puzzling my way through each area in order to earn pagies, but it didn't take long before collecting the same batch of items over and over started to wear thin. Considering this is what gamers are largely signing up for, I suspect most people won't take issue with the monotony, but it definitely got to me after a while.

I think the same can be said about a lot of the more archaic elements in Yooka-Laylee. I know a lot of people yearn for a return to simpler times, but there's a reason why 3D platformers moved away from focusing entirely on collecting items. I also found that the camera can be a little wonky, especially when it shifts from the usual manual camera to a fixed angle. There were a few times where I found myself constantly dying because of this switch, which has a bad tendency of sending you all the way back to the last door or pipe you exited from. This isn't a big deal, but it can be a little frustrating when you get transported back to the start of the level and have to work your way back to where you died.

Yooka-Laylee (Xbox One)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Despite a lot of the elements feeling a bit outdated, I had a good time exploring the stages and meeting the colorful cast of characters. I especially enjoyed returning to the tomes with all of the new abilities at your disposal. I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy flying around and seeing the large stages from a completely different perspective. There's a lot to see and collect in this game, and I still didn't even come close to finding everything after several dozen hours.

My guess is that longtime fans of Rare's Nintendo 64 output will fall in love with everything Yooka-Laylee does. While I grew bored of collecting the same items, I have a hunch that this will be one of the things many people like the most. The truth is, you don't need a review to say whether or not the game is good, because Playtonic's newest game is exactly what you think it is, for better or worse. I'm not sure I want every 3D platformer to be like this, but I'm happy that Yooka-Laylee exists.
comments powered by Disqus